PICO BLVD — When I first stumbled upon craft beers about eight years ago, the place I would often wander into was The Daily Pint in the Pico Neighborhood.
Just a short walk, or stagger depending on the time of day, from my apartment on Michigan Avenue, The Pint, as it is affectionately called by regulars, had an impressive selection of beers by boutique American brewers, including ales expertly aged in casks filled with fresh hops or vanilla beans.
Little did I know at the time, but The Pint was dubbed one of the best beer bars in all the land. Its scotch-whiskey selection is impressive as well with over 500 selections. And because of that, it’s still my favorite place to go when I feel like tossing a few back.
Forget all of these new gastropubs looking to capitalize on the craft beer craze. The Daily Pint is the genuine article. The bartenders are friendly, attentive and know their stuff, while the regulars, who hail from all walks of life, are true brew enthusiasts looking to have some laughs and engage in good conversation.
And then there’s the owner, Phil McGovern, a transplant from London who emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1970s. McGovern can seem like a tough bloke at first. He is short on words and can get impatient if you don’t know what to order. (Definitely don’t ask him for a Red Bull and vodka.) But I love that about a true beer bar. He reminds me a lot of the bartenders at Toronado in The Haight neighborhood of San Francisco — another great beer bar where you better have your order ready or risk going home thirsty.
Once you get to conversing with McGovern, you learn he isn’t a hard ass after all. He’s actually got a big heart and truly enjoys interacting with his customers.
“I always wanted to open my own pub,” said McGovern, who named The Daily Pint after a lyric from the Wings song “Band on the Run.” “I like to take care of my customers. My customers are my friends now. So it’s like walking into party. And I think they feel the same way.”
McGovern didn’t start out in the pub business. He came to the states as a hairdresser. He opened his own salon, which he named British Hairways, and when the opportunity arose, he purchased The Pint, which was then a rough-and-tumble biker bar.
That was 25 years ago. This Saturday, McGovern will be celebrating a successful run by pouring some special brews, including Stone Brewing Co.’s recently released 16th Anniversary Ale (a double IPA spiked with a touch of lemon verbena and lemon oil) on cask, their new Enjoy By IPA on cask, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder (sorry, no Younger) and Lost Abbey’s Road to Helles and Witch’s Wit. Firestone Walker just might make an appearance and there are sure to be other gems on the menu. It wouldn’t be The Daily Pint if there wasn’t. McGovern was being a little tight-lipped when we last spoke so I’ll be pleasantly surprised when I arrive.
I encourage all beer lovers to head down Pico Boulevard to The Pint, belly up to the bar and down some pints with McGovern and friends.
And if you can’t make it, great! That means more pints for me.
If you go
The Daily Pint
2310 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, Calif.